WASHINGTON — A federal district court in California issued a preliminary injunction in the case of Jesús Arreola late yesterday, ordering the government to restore Arreola's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grant and employment authorization. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California had filed a preliminary injunction motion on behalf of Arreola in October.
The government had revoked Arreola's DACA grant because immigration authorities had initiated removal proceedings against him, charging him with being unlawfully present in the United States. The court explained that because every DACA recipient is unlawfully present in the U.S. as a predicate for eligibility for the program, terminating someone's status on that basis alone is arbitrary, irrational, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act. The court also held that because the government had granted Arreola DACA in 2012, 2014, and 2016, it could not change its position with respect to whether he was deserving of DACA without at least providing a good reason for the change — which it failed to do. In addition, the court found that nothing in the program rules permits the government to automatically terminate DACA as a result of removal proceedings that charge a DACA recipient with being unlawfully present.
"Jesús Arreola was in good standing and following the rules when the Trump administration arbitrarily stripped him of his DACA," said ACLU attorney Katrina Eiland. "The court's decision is good news for Jesús and his family — who just welcomed his first child yesterday in California — and Dreamers like him who have been wrongfully targeted. The government can't just break its promises for no reason and start revoking DACA. This case highlights why Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect Jesús and hundreds of thousands of other young immigrants whose lives and futures are at risk under this administration."
Andrés Kwon, Equal Justice Works Emerson Fellow at the ACLU of Southern California, said, "The fact that Jesús at least at this point regains his DACA status and his authorization to work — both of which were taken from him — is a hopeful step in the right direction. This lawsuit is about ensuring that DACA provides meaningful protection from deportation. But even if the court ultimately finds in our favor, it's at best a temporary measure. We need a permanent solution, which is the immediate passage of a clean Dream Act." Jesús Alonso Arreola Robles is a 23-year-old resident of the Los Angeles area who has lived in the U.S. since age one. At the time that the Department of Homeland Security terminated his DACA, Arreola was working two jobs to help support his family — as a cook at the famed Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood and as a driver for Uber and Lyft. Through his earnings, Arreola helped support his parents, both of whom are lawful permanent residents, and his three U.S. citizen sisters — one of whom has significant disabilities.
Despite Arreola's lack of any criminal history and his valid DACA grant, federal immigration authorities arrested him in February 2017 while he was driving a customer. Authorities falsely alleged that he was trying to help smuggle the customer's relatives into the United States and placed him in deportation proceedings. Even though an immigration judge promptly rejected the smuggling allegation, and he was never charged with any crime, DHS revoked his DACA and with it, his ability to work and support his family.
"We are overjoyed for Jesús Arreola and his family, and welcome yesterday's ruling as a small victory for justice and common sense," said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the ACLU. "At the same time, the very fact that Jesús was arrested to begin with remains a troubling reminder that the Trump administration is targeting young immigrants, including those with DACA status. The stories of Rosa Maria Hernandez, Jessica Colotl, and other young Dreamers and DACA-recipients unjustly targeted by the Trump administration underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass the Dream Act this year. And despite the decision's good news, Jesús joins hundreds of thousands of current DACA recipients whose futures and protections remain uncertain in the hands of Congress. No Dreamer should have to spend the holidays wondering if they will have to leave the country they call home."
Arreola is one of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the ACLU of Southern California on behalf of young immigrants challenging the Trump administration's unlawful decisions to terminate their DACA grants. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Arreola and others like him, as well as the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective (IEIYC), an organization that advocates for immigrant youth. IEIYC & Arreola v. Duke alleges that DHS has a practice of unlawfully and arbitrarily revoking DACA grants and work authorizations based on unproven allegations or low-level offenses, such as traffic violations, that do not disqualify the individual from the program. DHS terminates DACA in these cases without any advance notice, any chance to fight the government's actions, or any opportunity to reinstate DACA when an individual is cleared of any allegations. The lawsuit says that these revocation practices violate the federal Administrative Procedure Act and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
If you or someone you know has had a DACA grant revoked, please contact the ACLU at DACArevoked@aclu.org.
A video about Arreola's story is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIT9yxQSkvo&feature=youtu.be
A blog post by Arreola is here: https://medium.com/aclu/i-lost-my-daca-status-because-i-was-arrested-though-never-charged-with-a-crime-45561fd4a7fb
Photos of Arreola can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eyedp7d8uq5sydw/AACOalu9pIqNMkVTi-uC0CE1a?dl=0
For more information about the class action lawsuit is available online here: https://www.aclusocal.org/en/cases/inland-empire-immigrant-youth-collective-v-duke